Mille Feuille

It was not long after I met my partner that we took a mini trip to Victoria.  It was a post-Christmas getaway.  We spent a few days travelling around the majestic Great Ocean Road taking in the amazing Twelve Apostles, then we travelled to Mornington Peninsular visiting a number of wineries and picking some local grown strawberries, and then settled back to Melbourne to ring in the New Year.

There was one pastry pit stop along the way.  My partner is quite partial to the Vanilla Slice – Mille Feuille or Napoleon, if you wish.  In my pre-travel research, I stumbled across a number of references to the ‘best vanilla slice in Victoria’.  It was a bold claim.  It was being made about Just Fine Foods Delicatessen(23 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento, Victoria).

Seeing we were in the area, we needed to sample this custard pastry to see what all the fuss was about.  It was worth the visit.  Lovely crispy layers of pastry contained a light, creamy custard. It was delicious.

Since that trip to Victoria, I had not thought much about Vanilla Slice.  Until reaching ‘pastry month’.  Given I would have a more than willing taste tester by my side, I decided to make my own Mille Feuille.

I filled my Mille Feuille with a simple vanilla pastry cream, crème pâtissière, then topped with the traditional glaze and pattern.  This dessert exaggerated the buttery-ness of my homemade puff pastry.  In a good way.  The puff pastry flavour and texture was quite unadulterated with only the simple addition of pastry cream between the layers.  There was no hiding!

It was very rich, but totally mouth-watering – and it all went in a flash.

{ Mille Feuille }

* Ingredients *
450g or 1lb puff pastry
1/2 cup icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon cocoa
Basic pastry cream

* Directions *
Make the pastry cream and set aside to cool.  Meanwhile, line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Roll out puff pastry to 30 x 30 cm square (12 x 12 inch square).  Cut into 3 strips at 30 x 10 cm (or 12 x 4 in).  Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F or 200C. Place the pastry on the lined tray. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.  Top the pastry with another sheet of baking paper and another baking tray and bake for a further 6-8 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool.

In a bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, butter and milk to make the glaze.  Once you have reached a spreadable but firm consistency, remove 1/4 of the glaze to a separate bowl.  To that, add the cocoa powder.  Add a drop more milk if necessary.  Transfer the cocoa glaze to a small piping bag.

Spread the white glaze on top of one of the cooled pastry strips.  Spread evening.  Then pipe the chocolate across gently from side to side. Lightly drag a wooden toothpick down the length of the pastry, in alternating directions, to create the pattern.

Spread the pastry cream over the remaining two pastry strips, creating layers of pastry, pastry and then glaze.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Use a large serrated knife cut the pastry into portions and then serve immediately.

Serves 5-6

{ Basic Pastry Cream }

* Ingredients *
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup cornflour

* Directions *
In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a wooden spoon. (Never let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.)  Add the cornflour to the egg mixture until you get a smooth paste.  Set aside.

Meanwhile in a saucepan combine the milk and split vanilla bean on medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.  Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture.

Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly.  When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 – 60 seconds until it becomes very thick and it is hard to stir.

Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming.  Cool.  If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days.  Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.

Makes 1 ½ cups